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K show more international, but attendance down slightly

By: Bill Bregar

October 23, 2013

DÜSSELDORF, GERMANY – K 2013 will draw about 219,000 visitors to Messe Düsseldorf, down 1.5 percent from the 222,486 who came to the previous K, in 2010. At the same time, K 2013 became more global, the head of the trade fair center said.

"The K remains the most important event in the plastics industries. And this will be the same in the future," said Werner Matthias Dornscheidt, president and CEO of Messe Düsseldorf, the massive trade show center.

The attendance estimate, announced at an Oct. 23 news conference, did exceed trade show officials' prediction of about 200,000, he said.

Dornscheidt said 58 percent of the visitors, or 126,000 percent of total attendees, came from outside of Germany. "We had 20 percent increase in foreign attendance," he said.

A large percent came from Asia. Dornscheidt said 30,000 traveled to Düsseldorf from southeast and central Asia.

K is the world's largest plastics trade show. The mix of attendees has changed over the years.

"We poll our visitors every single day, and we found out that one of two of them came with very concrete plans to buy," Dornscheidt said.

Companies no longer bring lots of plant workers. Instead, the show halls are filled with executives with the authority to buy. And they are accompanied by top technical experts, who advise them.

"They clearly say 'we want to use the K for our key decision makers,'" Dornscheidt said. "There they can actually talk shop." So if fewer total people came, they were key people with specific investment interests.

Two-thirds of visitors were top managers with decision-making power. More than half of them have role in investment decisions, he said.

Dornscheidt said 8,100 visitors came from the United States and Canada, well above the 1,300 that had pre-registered. About 11,000 came from Latin America, about the same as in 2010.

Ulrich Reifenhäuser, chairman of the exhibitors' advisory board, said he had hoped K 2013 would "really inject a fresh breeze for the industry," and that his hopes were exceeded. He called the 2013 K "an exceedingly dynamic, intense trade fair."

Sustainability and energy efficiency were major themes of K2013. Reinfenhauser noted that these are not brand-new concepts, but he said the K marked a milestone in linking manufacturing to the effort. "They are no longer like fire and water," and now they go hand in hand, he said.

"The world faces serious problems and needs plastics to cope with major challenges and make this a better place for the long-term," Reifenhäuser said.

Ulrich Reifenhäuser is managing director of extrusion machinery specialist Reifenhäuser GmbH & Co. KG Maschinenfabrik. He said the eight days of K 2013 flew by. The show, he said, "emotionalized, thrilled us as mechanical engineers."

And he thinks the strong K 2013 will provide "tailwinds" that will carry over for plastics industry growth in 2014.

K 2016 will be held Oct. 19-26 of 2016.